- The Minister of Youth and Culture, the Hon. Lisa Hanna, MP has received an interim report from the Child Development Agency.
- The investigation surrounds the circumstances under which the group Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) implemented an unauthorised sexual education programme in six privately-operated children’s homes.
- A review of the content of the material found that parts of the training material were inappropriate for the age cohort.
The Minister of Youth and Culture, the Hon. Lisa Hanna, MP has received an interim report from the Child Development Agency surrounding the circumstances under which the group Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) implemented its unauthorised sexual education programme in six privately-operated children’s homes.
Minister Hanna had instructed the CDA, which has responsibility for the regulation of children’s homes and places of safety, to explain: the circumstances which led to the programme being implemented for eight or nine months without the Agency’s knowledge and the suitability of the material for the children.
In keeping with her commitment, Minister Hanna is releasing the findings of the preliminary report.
In light of the breaches identified, Minister Hanna has asked the directors of the homes to respond to the findings within seven (7) days.
The CDA found the following:
The training programme “Realising Sexual and Reproductive Health Responsibly: JFJ’s Pilot Intervention in Children’s Homes” was held in: The Alpha Boys Home; St. John Bosco; Jamaica National Children’s Home; Sunbeam Children’s Home for Boys; Elsie Bemand Home for Girls and Best Care Foundation.
The six facilities indicated that they were contacted directly by representatives of JFJ via telephone and later by email and letter.
The administrators of facilities gave approval to the JFJ for the implementation of the sexual education programme through MOUs.
It was confirmed that the six homes each received a monetary contribution from the JFJ for use of their premises for the training.
At no time did the administrators inform the CDA or the Minister, as required by the Child Care and Protection (Children’s Homes) Regulations, 2007.
Regulation 15(2) states:
“Where educational programmes are provided at the home, the licensee shall ensure that-
(a) those programmes are in accordance with a curriculum approved by the Minister;
(b) any substantial deviation from the approved curriculum is entered in the daily journal and a notification thereof is sent forthwith to the Minister;
(c) a copy of the timetable for each programme is conspicuously displayed at the home”.
The operators of the six homes by sanctioning and giving approval for the training breached Regulation 15 (1) and 15 (2) of the Child Care and Protection (Children’s Home) Regulations, in not seeking approval from the Minister.
A review of the content of the material found that parts of the training material were inappropriate for the age cohort, and a departure from that approved by the Ministry of Education for use in public schools and legal advice will have to be sought to determine if its presentation contravened any existing laws. Information gleaned from the focus groups sessions in the homes confirmed that the training material was delivered.
The children received training in the areas relating to homosexuality and anal sex.
The training schedule was not noticeably displayed at the home in contravention of the regulations.
Minister Hanna said she was “concerned about the breaches, particularly since the homes acknowledged that they did not advise the CDA about the programme although visited by monitoring officers of the CDA.”
Furthermore she stated that “the broader issue is that all should be aware, that the care and the protection of children extend to their education. The responsibility for deciding what children in care are exposed to rests with the relevant Ministries and their agencies, not the children’s homes and certainly not the JFJ.”
Minister Hanna said she would take appropriate action after receiving the responses from the administrators of the homes.